Your design business can be as successful as you want to make it, but what impact could passion have on your business? When you’re passionate about the brands you work on, know how to make a difference and solve their client problems, you’ll be able to grow your business and serve your audience well.
Michelle Pontvert joins us to share all about how she has found success in working with brands she loves and creating functional, problem-solving websites.
Michelle Pontvert is a brand and web designer working with businesses who support mothers and babies, and are ready to make a bigger impact on the families who truly need their support.
Making vital resources for new mothers and families easily findable and accessible on the internet is Michelle’s core mission, along with supporting other female-run businesses to create the success and balance they deserve.
Michelle has a design background in set decoration for film as well as experience working with small businesses on their marketing teams. This background gives her a unique perspective to her branding and web design work, which is based on a strong foundation of strategy and empathy to ensure that her design solutions work for her clients as well as looking polished and professional.
Becoming a mother redefined her life, and Michelle is now dedicated to supporting the types of businesses who have been so valuable to her as a mother. If you help mothers and babies, then she’s here to help you find more clients and grow your business through your branding and website.
Michelle is Australian originally, studied in the US, and now lives in Paris, France. Being an expat has been a formative experience for Michelle and has informed her inclusive and empathy-first approach to her business.
Finding a Niche You’re Passionate About
In the design world, we hear all the time about the importance of finding a niche and narrowing down the audience that you will serve. Michelle shares so thoughtfully about how she has always been passionate about working with mothers and attracted to brands who supported them, and this passion came from an early age.
While you may not have always been passionate about the niche you land on, finding one you’re passionate about now can make a big impact on how you serve your audience, brand yourself, and market your business.
What’s even more powerful is the excitement you have when working on a brand that you enjoy or are passionate about. For example, Michelle has a special place in her heart for brands that offer Baby Sleep Trainers, because she herself struggled with sleep training her son until a sleep trainer came into the picture.
No matter who you’re working with, it’s important that you not only enjoy it, but that you also can help them make an impact.
Making an Impact Through Branding & Web Design
We’re expected to be online constantly in our lives, it’s important to look at your website as a storefront for your brand. Your website can do a lot of the hard work when it comes to converting leads into paying clients—that’s where a good designer comes into play.
When you focus in on using your zone of genius and where you excel, you’ll be able to show up and serve the businesses that you’re interested in by doing incredible work and making such a difference in their brand and in the lives of the clients that they get to work with.
Investing in Educational Offerings
Now you may be asking, how do I make this impact and focus in on a specific niche? Invest in yourself—invest in your education. By investing in your education and skillset, you’re continuing to grow and learning how to better serve your clients.
Not only are you better serving your clients, but you’re also serving yourself. In finding the skills you want to acquire, or even the business understanding you need to build a better service promotes a better business strategy for yourself.
Solving Problems with Design
As designers, we love the beautiful details and design work we create for our clients, but websites are meant to be functional and solve problems. When you’re creating and designing for a client, beauty is important, but your work should help them in their business.
Beautiful designs can only take you so far, but it’s the brand strategy that takes your clients the furthest.
Working with your clients on the problem solving that they need will help navigate and guide your work. Your client knows the problems of their clients far better than you do, but your talent in design and strategy is what will help solve the problems.
Catch the Show Notes
Get to Know Michelle (2:37)
Making an Impact through Design (6:17)
Brands Michelle Works With & Enjoys (7:27)
Investments that Level Up Your Services (9:31)
Encouragement for Business Owners (22:47)
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Hi, friends and welcome to the brand strategy podcast. A show created to equip you with the inspiration, encouragement, and clarity. You need to build the brand of your dreams. I’m your host, Bonnie Bakhtiari brand designer, strategist, and founder of the Illume Retreate from sustainable strategy to heart felt encouragement. Each episode is designed to equip you with the tools you need to chase after your dreams, because you deserve a brand that empowers you to do what you love, connects with your dream clients and offers a deep sense of fulfillment along the way. So grab a cup of coffee and join me on this journey. Won’t you friends. Welcome back to the brand strategy podcast, where today we have such an exciting conversation aligned up all around how to grow your design
Business as a graphic brand or web designer, and how does serve your clients so incredibly well today’s guest is someone who exemplifies what it looks like to show up and serve your clients well, and to do so in a way that is truly in alignment with your values. And I’m so excited to get to introduce y’all to her today. Her name is Michelle Pontvert, and she is an incredibly talented brand and web designer who works with businesses who support mothers and babies, and are ready to make a bigger impact on the families who truly need their support. So she focuses on providing vital resources for new mothers and families through easily find-able and accessible websites and online presences. And because of that, she’s able to support other female run businesses to create the success and the balance they deserve. Michelle. I’m so excited to have you join us, and I am really looking forward to having this conversation with you. So thank you so much for coming on the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m a long-time listener. First-time guest.
Well, we are so glad that you are here. And I also, this is especially sweet for me to have you on the show because in the spirit of full transparency, you are a current student of my signature program for designers, the brand strategy school. And it’s been amazing getting to know you through the brand strategy school and watch you grow your business over the months that you’ve been a part of this community. And, uh, I don’t want to get too ahead of myself here. So before I, you know, just gush about the incredible work that you do, would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself and your business?
Sure. So about myself. So I’m actually Australian originally. I don’t always identify as Australian, but I was born there and I grew up moving a lot. I ended up doing my studies in the states in California, and that’s where I met my now husband, who is French. And the opportunity came up to move to Paris with him. And so about six years we moved here and, uh, I actually went to a big career change at that same time when we moved, I originally had been working in film as a set decorator and I adored the work. I’ve always knew I wanted to do something creative, but the lifestyle that went with it was really not fitting you well. And I kept seeing these women, I really admired with Oscars and Emmys with careers. I admired, but lifestyles, I really didn’t want, and I’d always known since I was a kid.
I really wanted to be a very present mother to whatever kids I was going to have. And so having kind of coupled up with my husband, I knew that making space in my life for family and my children who are going to come was really important. So when we moved to France, I started on this journey of figuring out what else this could look like for me. And it took me some time. I ended up working with a few small businesses and, uh, ended up in their marketing departments, which I really enjoyed. I’ve always been really attracted to working with women. I went to all girls schools in Australia, and I just love that female kind of empowerment and female camaraderie. And I kept being drawn to these small businesses and working in their marketing departments. I got to explore a little bit if their websites and, uh, unfortunately I was let go from one of my study of jobs while I was on maternity leave.
And it was a really big blow. I wasn’t ready to try and look for anything else, but it ended up being a kind of blessing in disguise. And I decided to finally take the big leap and do something fully for myself. And after that of courage building and some training, I launched my own business and I decided I couldn’t think of anything better to do than support other women. And particularly those who were supporting women who were in situations I’d been in very recently, or I’m still in now as a new mum. Um, I really sparked by my struggles as a pregnant woman and then as postpartum really struggled to find resources, um, online and in person. And I just felt like I couldn’t think of a better place in the digital world to improve things my own little way to try and make it a bit easier for other parents to find the resources they need and to help those other women run businesses, have an easier time of it. If I could.
That’s so amazing and like such a, such a beautiful mission to be on to help, not only support fellow mothers and new mothers, like you were saying, but to also show up and support other women run businesses. So I so love that you really decided to approach that from a place of personal experience and following your passion. Now, I’m curious as you follow that passion and as you work with women and mothers, uh, I know that website design and strategy is really your zone of genius and where you show up and serve them very tangibly. But how do you see website design strategy playing a part and helping those missions or those brands get out there and have the impact that they’re looking for?
Oh, that’s such a good question. So it’s funny. I think websites are just the vehicle through which I feel like I’m able to make a big impact in these kinds of businesses and use the skills I have. But I think in this sort of world that we live in right now, websites are sort of the new storefronts and making sure that your storefront represents you properly and attracts customers, you know, invites them in and then helps do some of the sales work for those business owners who can’t be online or on the phone, twenty four seven. I think it’s a really important thing to get in place. And I love being able to help them just make those websites work a bit harder for them, so they don’t have to work so hard
Is such a great way to think about it. Kind of, you know, thinking about our websites and our online presences is these sort of online homes, those, those storefronts, like you were talking about that set the tone for how our clients or our customers can engage with us. So what kinds of brands I know that you love working with brands that support mothers and babies, but what kinds of work do you see your clients do that you just like really get excited about?
Well, I think I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for baby’s sleep trainers. It’s funny, it’s such a specific thing that I struggled so much with my son when he was little sleeping and people who, who do that kind of work, where it can be in person or online. I just find that really thrilling and a really fun place to exercise all the different ways that a website can support a business. And I just love that niche. I think it’s wonderful, but anything to do with supporting mums and babies at the very early stages, really lovely. So lactation specialists, doulas, midwives. There’s so many amazing services out there that honestly I didn’t know about before I became a mom and I wish I knew because there’s so many different ways you can get that support. Um, it’s hard to pick, but I think they’d be sleep trainers always have a special spot in my
Well it’s. I mean, such an important process and it’s such an important part of not only their lives in their growing, but also you and your partner, caring for yourselves when baby is sleeping and on a good schedule, everyone is so much happier
Evolutionary when they start sleeping again. And I became really delirious when my son wasn’t sleeping well. So I think it’s very imprinted in me, just how important
That’s completely understandable. Well, I really love that you have focused on using your zone of genius and where you Excel to show up and serve businesses that are doing such incredible work and are making such a difference in the lives of the families that they get to work with. Uh, and, and just like through the work that you do with creating those amazing websites and guiding clients through that in-depth strategy process, you’re helping them kind of level up and you’re helping them get out in front of their ideal clients. But as a designer, what investments have you made that have helped you continue to level up your services so that you could serve clients at this high level that you’re currently serving the mat?
Uh, I, I really believe in education and I’ve really spent a lot of time and energy trying to make sure I’m able to support people the best way I can. So there’s been a few really transformational experiences. I took a UX bootcamp right at the beginning and having that perspective of a user first experience was really, really wonderful. Um, and then obviously the I strategy school was really lovely. I felt quite shy about the branding side of things. And I think approaching the strategy first really just sit, sits right with me. And I love that piece of the empathetic and strategic thinking all at once to be able to base designs off of something real, it really, really hit home. And I think it’s made my business really much more powerful and I feel much more confident having gone through truly understanding what the strategy piece of design can be.
I think it, it was something I’d understood from previous careers, but translating it into branding was, was it a hurdle for me? And I think that really helped, um, the other ones that I think that’s, and, um, I think learning more of the technical side of things of CSS and then a really great course for that. It’s a bit intense, but I think I feel much more confident having that framework behind me so that I can do what I want to make the tools do and make the sites look the way I want them to look.
I love how you said that you, you know, really prioritize education and you value that. That’s definitely, um, a mindset and a set of values that I can relate to because I think it’s so important to keep investing in yourself. And I personally prioritize that for myself because there’s always so much that we can learn about, uh, you know, how to be better business owners, how to gain a skill with a specific, uh, area of focus or even, you know, how to even just become a happier or healthier person, you know, outside of the business, there’s so much, so much learning that’s out there. Uh, but one thing that I really love that you shared is that you started with that UX design, uh, experience. So through everything that you were adding on, you were keeping that user experience sort of as, as a key foundational piece and then layering on the strategy. And now you’re getting to kind of hone in on some of the more particulars through the CSS. So I really love how you took such a what on my end looks like a very intentional approach to how you chose, where you wanted to invest in your business.
Yeah. I mean, I think that we’re always learning and it’s a journey and I think just being clear on what the next step you need to feel confident to move forward has always been like the guiding light as I’m trying to move in my business or in life. Like, I think there is that sort of saying of you learn just in time and sometimes you need a little push, but I think a lot of times it’s been very valuable when I’m just ready for something and then jumping in and investing my time and energy and money to, to make sure I get it in to make sure it’s it’s sunken and, and applied in my business has been really, really valuable.
That that makes so much sense out of curiosity, when you identified that you wanted to learn more about brand strategy before you joined the brand strategy school, were there certain, you know, questions or thoughts that you noticed where you identified very clearly? Okay. This is an area where I want to learn more about, and I want to understand more about brand strategy or was it just sort of a kind of, you know, like serendipitous thing and, you know, we just got connected in that way.
No, I definitely had, I, when I was going through the UX course, we talked a lot about how to make the customer flow and the information, information architecture work, and the let’s say aesthetics. The UI of it was, was a secondary thought. We talked a lot about like color psychology and design principles, but having that tailored to the actual specific business was that piece. I felt like it was missing. And it’s great to apply all these sorts of abstract techniques and abstract ideas to a design. But if it doesn’t mean anything, I really struggled with that sitting right with me. I, when I was working in film, all my decisions for design were based off of a character. And that made so much sense to me as I made those design choices. And I felt really like I was missing that in my web design business and in my web design and branding kind of process was the character piece is sort of a funny thing to think about, but I was missing that connection. So I think the strategy was what, um, so that, for me,
That makes so much sense and I can really resonate with that thought of wanting to make sure that there is intention or there’s a clear sense of why behind what you’re doing, because I think that, you know, and you can probably, uh, you know, really hear where I’m coming from here because you’re also a designer, but there’s, I think there’s such a big difference and the design community from creating something that is beautiful or that is functional for the sake of beauty and functionality versus creating something that is beautiful and functional and intentional, and that aligns with your client’s goals and gives them the tools they need to see the outcome that they’re, and that’s, uh, just from, you know, what I know of your business and the way you show up and serve your clients, that’s exactly the experience that you strive to deliver with every client project. Right.
Completely. And there’s a quote. I do not know who said it originally, but the fact that design isn’t art really sticks with me, that design is to solve problems really functionally. That’s what we’re doing with solving a problem for a very specific situation. And if it subsequently happens to be beautiful, because that fits with the way we need to solve that problem, then that’s fantastic. But the primary purpose of design isn’t to be beautiful, it’s to be functional and solve a problem that really, I just hold that so close to my heart. I think that’s very true in how I see design in my work. One a
Hundred percent. I could not agree more. I think that, uh, you know, keeping that thought at the forefront of your mind when you’re creating for a client changes the way that you are creating and give so much more purpose to the way that you’re guiding your clients through the process too.
Oh, completely. Yeah. I think if it all comes from a space of trying to solve a problem, trying to come up with a solution, a strategy it’s such a different idea behind how we working. It’s such a different mentality that we can take as we go through the entire process. And I think, I think the clients feel different at the end too. You know, they may love a beautiful design made just to be beautiful, but I don’t know how well that serves their businesses. And ultimately that’s what they came to help. They came to hire us for as designers it’s to help them with their business.
Absolutely. And, uh, you know, the, the beautiful designs only take you so far, but the beautiful and strategic designs, those are the ones that build these incredible results and deliver these incredible results for clients that, you know, translate to, you know, a higher number of sales or more revenue brought in, or, you know, the ability to increase prices or, you know, really secure opportunities that weren’t available prior to that. So I love that is, uh, an approach that you really prioritize
Well, I appreciate you sharing a little bit about, you know, kind of how you identified that you wanted to really learn more about brand strategy. And I think in your own words at the beginning, you sort of felt kind of shy when it came to the topic of brand strategy, uh, after walking through the brand strategy school, how do you feel about brand strategy and how would you describe the way that you feel about the business that you’re currently running?
I think the biggest light bulb moment for me was working through the cost. I realized that actually I don’t have to have the answers, but I’m helping my client come up with the solutions for these very specific questions that we need to be able to form the framework together. And I think sort of teamwork side of it was, was maybe what I was struggling with so much at the beginning, but feels so much clearer now that I feel like I am a partner in coming up with the best strategy for them because ultimately it’s their business and they know it better than I do. And I can only bring my experience and my training and my framework to help filter what they already know about the business to then get those results that they’re looking for. So I think that that was a huge light bulb moment for me that I don’t have to have all the answers. I just have to help them find the answers with my guidance.
Absolutely. You are the guide that is walking your clients through that brand strategy process and with their collaboration, with their cooperation, they’re helping you uncover so many of those incredible foundational components that make up that cohesive brand strategy. And so yes, you do get to show up and have that, that sense of authority and that sense of ownership, almost kind of co ownership of the strategy that you’re creating, but ultimately, uh, the, the collaboration between you and your client, that’s where a lot of the magic happens. And that can be a really fun and really relational process too. I like to think of it kind of like it’s a labor of love.
Yeah, I think it is. I think it’s, it’s something kind of like a friendship starting to, you usually get to know the person and get to understand them on a completely different level than if you hadn’t gone through that strategy process. And it just helps so much as I’m making all the pre you know, subsequent decisions, having this strategy in mind and knowing who they are. And oftentimes I can kind of hear the voice in my head like, oh, that’s yep. That fits with their values that fits with their mission. This feels right. Um, it’s a really fun experience and definitely feels like it’s a partnership. Um,
I love that. Well, friends for those who are tuning in today, if you are loving this idea of creating those very collaborative relationships with your clients and guiding them through a clear brand strategy process, actually talk through this more in a completely free training that I’ve created for graphic brand and web designers on how to use brand strategy to earn more consistent income in your design business. So if you want to check that out, you can go to Bisforbonniedesign.com/training and grab your free seat to that masterclass. But Michelle, I know that you care so deeply about the work that you do. I mean, just hearing you talk about that really collaborative process with your clients and knowing how you’re getting to guide clients through that process to create these brands that are having an impact in the lives of mothers and young families and women, I would love to know what do you love most about the clients that you serve and the work that you get to do? If you could distill it down to one, one big favorite thing, what would that look like?
Ugh, that’s such a hard question bunny. I, the thing I love about the clients I serve is that these are usually people who’ve gone into this because they just love what they do. It’s not work that you can do from money. And I think coming at the businesses that way, coming at their work that way is just something I just admire so much and resonates with me so much. And I just find it completely all inspiring to hear about why they started their businesses and how they’re making this huge impact in women and continuing this kind of generational support of women, helping women. I just love that. So I think that really, really lights me up. And then in terms of my business, I think the fact that I’m able to actually turn around and make my business support my life as a mom, um, it all feels very kind of whole and complete that yes, I’m supporting businesses that support moms and most of those businesses are run by moms. But my business also supports me as a mum and gives me that time to spend solely with my little one and be present with him while he’s little. And I think it all just sort of fits perfectly together. It’s a lovely little symbiotic
That’s in such an alignment. And that just seems like such a, such a beautiful way to not only show up and build the life that you want, but also to use your passions, to help other people make a living doing really impactful work as well, which is so amazing.
Oh, thank you. It took me a while to find it, but it’s felt really, really right. Since it all sort of lined up. Yeah.
I oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, um, out of curiosity, what encouragement would you share to those who are tuning in today, who like you want to show up for their clients in a way that aligns with their values and follows their passions? Do you have any encouragement or advice to,
I think deep down, we probably all know what we’re most excited about and what we really want. And I think sometimes it’s hard to listen to that inner voice. And so sometimes just taking a step back or talking it out with a friend can really help narrow down on what really matters. I ended up really profiting from taking a step back from the work sort of hamster wheel I’d been in when I got let go. And I wouldn’t give that moment of really hard, but spacious time in my life for anything, because it gave me the clarity to realize what really mattered to me and what I really felt compelled to do. And I think if we just give us a little bit of space that clarity often comes
Absolutely something that a piece of advice that I received recently that came to mind as I was hearing you share that is this idea of getting still with yourself and being still in the stillness, listening, and observing, and exactly like you said, a lot of the time the answers were already looking for already within us, but we have to be brave enough to give ourselves that space, to face those answers and to really discover them. So, yeah, that’s such amazing advice. I really appreciate you sharing that encouragement for those who are listening and want to connect with you more, where can people find you? Where do you like to spend your time online?
Well, obviously my website is a big place that I love to hang out. I’ve got a blog that I work on every week, um, and I’ve got some free resources there and then I’ve recently been making a much bigger effort to be on Instagram. So that’s my other hangup of choice. Amazing.
Well, what is your, if people want to go and find you there right now, what is your username on Twitter?
Pretty easy. It’s Michelle Pontvert all connected. Um, I’m sure you’ll put a link cause my last name is slightly tricky.
No worries. We will definitely have all of those links. So your website URL, your social links and this incredible freebie that you are sharing with us today, it is this amazing DIY website audit guide, correct?
Yes. I just, just released it and I’m so excited about it. Um, I went through doing website audits for a lot of different businesses and it’s been so wonderful to see that they just needed a little bit of guidance to unblock their websites and unblock that kind of thing that holds you back when you’re trying to get your business going. And so I decided to make a guide for people to be able to walk themselves through an audit, a review of their sites to figure out how to just make it work a bit harder for them without having to go through an entire redesign. Um, so it’s a very, very quick, very easy, actionable guide. And I have a little video walkthrough for the visual learners amongst us. How amazing,
Uh, well friends, of course I will have that link to get that incredible free website audit guide in the show notes for today’s episode. So if you just go to brand strategy, podcast.com and click on the latest episode link, you will find all the ways to connect with Michelle and the ways to get your hands on that DIY website audit guide. So be sure to head there and Michelle, thank you again for sharing that incredible resource with us. I know that people are going to just gain so much value from walking through that audit and being able to do that.
Oh, I’m thrilled. And if anyone goes through it and wants to share the experience, their results, I would love to hear it makes me so happy hearing how other people get on with the things I put out in the world.
Absolutely well friends. I so appreciate you tuning in to today’s episode. Be sure to head over to the show notes, to get all the incredible resources and you know, the, the recap of we talked about today also be able to connect with Michelle, as you can tell, she’s a wealth of knowledge and just a wonderful human. And so please be sure to reach out to her if you have any questions or want to share your wins that you’re seeing through that DIY website audit and Michelle, thank you so much for joining me and for coming and sharing part of your story with us, the incredible work that you’re doing. And you’re a little bit of your experience as a student inside the brand strategy school. I so appreciate it.
Oh, you’re so welcome Bonnie. This was such a treat.
I am so glad to hear that friends. Thank you always for tuning in. I so value your support and I appreciate you tuning in week after week. Uh, your support just means so much. And if you were listening today and you learned something from this episode, or you want to share more of Michelle’s story with a business friend, be sure to pass this along so that we can just, uh, share more free action-based education and encouragement
Speaker 1 (27:44):
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